What are you afraid to face?

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Fear Woman

Most of us can easily think of the moments we’ve lived in absolute terror. Fear is like a tattoo on our souls, except it’s a permanent mark we don’t want to show others. In reality, everyone experiences the emotion of fear, however, that doesn’t help us feel any better about our own.

I hate the dentist. Actually, I don’t hate the person; I hate the experience. I have more fillings and root canals than most people have teeth. I’m pretty sure I’ve put a few of my dentist’s kids through college.

The entire experience is a nightmare for me. Of course, the minions who serve Dr. Toothenstein try to pull the wool over my eyes. The room is clean, and the music is soothing. Everybody smiles and treats me like I’m about to go for a quiet walk on a beautiful beach. I’m placed in a recliner, of sorts; but just out of sight is a neatly organized tray of torture devices used to rip into my mouth. The doc enters with a sadistic grin. He asks how I’m doing while washing the evidence of his previous victim from his hands. I’m thinking, If this is so safe, then why are they covering my eyes with safety glasses? They can’t fool me; in fact, as the chair reclines, every sinew of my body tenses up as if I’m about to be waterboarded.

According to waterboarding.org, “waterboarding induces panic and suffering by forcing a person to inhale water into the sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and trachea.[1] The head is tilted back and water is poured into the upturned mouth or nose.” Obviously, this is a horrible torture and nothing to make light of, but it’s exactly how I feel with my head titled back in the dentist chair and his hands in my mouth. Gag! Choke! Help!

Being a manly man (meaning proud and stubborn), I’ve typically said no to using any happy gas (nitrous oxide) during my visits to the dentist.  But that all changed after spending three hours in an endodontist’s chair in the summer of 2012. As she carved deeper and deeper into my jaw, trying to remove an obstinate root, I went deeper and deeper into the dark hole of terror. Frankly, I had my first panic attack, and I felt embarrassed, angry with myself, and even foolish.

Fear Dentist

Fear sucks.

Physically, emotionally, mentally, and experientially it robs us of so much. Even if you are an adrenaline junky who loves doing crazy things simply for the rush, you’d still have to admit fear can kill you. On the good-bad scale of things, fear is evil unless it’s used for good. Meaning, unless you have a reasonable fear that keeps you from doing unreasonable things, fear is bad. Sometimes tragically bad.

Unfounded fears cause unnecessary reactions that cripple us and cause us to withdraw from living the epic life God has planned. Too often we say no to God-given opportunities because we’re afraid. Too often we miss the chance to develop and grow, because we’ve chosen to play it safe and avoid any risks.

I’m the last guy on the planet to give you a hard time for being afraid. I get it. If you struggle with fear, we are brothers from a different mother. You’ll get no finger-wagging or shameful looks from me. But we don’t have to stay stuck in the grip of terror. We can live free. We can grow. We can choose to “fear not” rather than live bound by fear knots.

To live free, we need to consider a few things.

First, we need a change in our perspective. This life is temporary. Our bodies are “but dust,”[2] and we’re scheduled for an upgrade in eternity. When we remember that Jesus defeated death[3], it can change the way we view those things we fear.

Second, we need a change in our minds. Fear is often the result of bad thinking. We develop bad mental habits that become the emotional ruts we run into. I heard someone say once, “You fight bad thoughts with good thoughts.” I couldn’t agree more. We must teach our minds to dwell on whatever is excellent and admirable and to focus our thoughts on all that is true, holy, just, pure, lovely and worthy of praise.[4]  The Bible also says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”[5] In other words, a God-fixed mind is a peace-filled mind.

We also need to train ourselves to seek and trust God when terror strikes. I love these words of David, found in the Psalms: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”[6] When the unexpected happens (and it will), whom do you turn to first? Does your heart run toward God in prayer or do you run to the medicine cabinet for a Valium?

Prayer is powerful.

Prayer takes us to the one who is able to rescue us. Prayer shifts our focus from the earthly to the heavenly. The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Church: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”[7] And Peter challenged us to cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for us.[8] Years ago, I had a little placard on my wall that read: “Prayer changes things.” It does because prayer changes us.

Finally, we must learn to lose our fears in the sea of God’s love. In many ways, the root of all fear is spiritual. We doubt the goodness of God. We question the love of Jesus. We wonder if God is really mindful of us or paying any attention to our situation. But “perfect love casts out fear.”[9] Knowing we are deeply loved by a Father who always has our best interest at heart is critical to living an epic life.

I imagine I will wrestle with some fears for the rest of my life, but I cannot afford to let them control me or my destiny in Christ. The key for you and me is to press beyond them to walk through the fear threshold before us. Why? Because a life beyond our wildest imagination is waiting for us on the other side of the fear barrier.


{Note: the above is an excerpt my second book manuscript called Epic Life. Let me know what you think! What resonated with you? What didn’t? Can you relate to my stories of fear?}


[1] Yes, there really is such a site: http://waterboarding.org/.

[2] Psalm 103:14

[3] I Corinthians 15

[4] Philippians 4:8

[5] Isaiah 26:3, NLT

[6] Psalms 34:4

[7] Philippians 4:6-7

[8] 1 Peter 5:7

[9] I John 4:18

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16 Responses to What are you afraid to face?

  1. Excellent writing Kurt! What really got me was the part about “To Live Free” and “Prayer is Powerful”. May God bless you as you work to finish your book. I can’t wait to read the finished work. Jay

  2. well, my biggest fear is cancer – and the enemy hit me hard the last month stirring it all up again in my life – but God is faithful and even though I went through numerous exams, biopsies, medical “torture”, and surgery, I have no cancer – just a benign tumor removed. My community of believers over here really supported me and prayed for me as well as my close friends in the US – I felt weak and unable to hold on to the promises God has given me my whole life that I would suffer the things my mom has suffered (like cancer). But every person who prayed for me here said “it is not cancer, don’t be afraid.” So, another chapter has been added to my testimony and I am deeply in love with Jesus, once again! He took me through the fire, and I was not scorched!

  3. I’ve wanted to write for a long time. Last fall when you were at Summit, I had been up all night before tossing and turning about possible permanent solutions to a HUGE temporary problem that is ongoing and possibly resulting in serious consequences. You spoke and I read the book. God’s timing – saved my life. I turn to it often when I’m feeling like I can’t go on. I’ve confessed to my family, but not those directly affected – possible criminal consequences. Huge amount of fear, but realize I need to move on and face the music, whatever that means. Thank you so much for your perspective and writing.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this encouraging comment. Know I am praying with you and for you. Still amazed by His grace. You are loved.

  4. Hi Cousin,
    Your first book was a blessing in my life…your second will be also. The 3 greatest fears I had for my life all happened. God brought amazing blessings to my life through these 3 happenings. Wouldn’t want to go back to who I was before.
    We are up in Anchorage visiting Jeff & family. Beautiful & wonderful!
    Love you,

    • It’s cousins like you that make our family such a gift to me. Knowing your story makes what you said even more powerful to me. Give my love to all!

  5. Wonderful! So many people need to hear and grasp this truth.
    My greatest fear used to be that I would be alone. I would stay up all night worrying that something might happen to Floyd when he was trucking but one night I came across the verse that says God did not give us a Spirit of fear and I felt the presence and closeness of God that night and when Floyd had his stroke in 2012 and Satan tried to stir up that fear in me again,I began to hunger for God like I never had before.He is literally my lifeline and I know I will never be alone.
    Can’t wait to read your new book!
    Oh, yea, Floyd got a big kick out of your picture. He just had emergency oral surgery yesterday morning; lots of laughing gas:)

    • Wow! Thank you for sharing a bit of your story, Linda. Love and appreciate you and Floyd. Glad my picture made him smile. You both are loved!

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